Photo Credit: TN
Breaking Barriers Through Surfing With Sofly
If you gather a bunch of Black millennials in a room and hand one of them the aux cord, there’s a significant chance that “Swag Surfin’” by Fast Life Yungstaz will be in the rotation.
Swag surfing is a staple among the Black community with its rhythmic nuances and the nostalgia of grabbing your friends to do the associated dance moves. Sahfilli “Sofly” Matturi took this metaphorical surfing approach and raised the bar by founding Sofly Surf School.
Since its inception, Matturi has had one primary goal: providing space for every human being to enjoy what he considers the world’s most abundant resources — water and love — through surfing.
It Was Like Second Nature
Matturi doesn’t claim to be Aquaman, but being born and raised in Long Beach, California, gave him the upper hand regarding water-based sports. Starting as a boogie board enthusiast, Matturi elevated his love for water activities when he bought a surfboard for his 15th birthday and started teaching himself the sport.
“It was the love of the ocean that brought me to surfing. I saw somebody do it, and it looked like the coolest thing ever,” he explained.
Not knowing anyone who surfed, Matturri had no one in his corner to look up to for inspiration. However, after accidentally being hit by a girl who was learning to surf, he decided laying down on the boogie board wasn’t his vibe. From that point on, he was determined to “stand on the water.”
Not A One-Man Show For Long
While there’s typically one person per board while surfing, Matturi said the community he’s built has been integral to his surfing journey. With this support, he wants to empower everyone to connect with the spirit of water and embody a freeing, child-like mindset while enjoying life through surfing.
This approach is where Sofly enters the chat. It actually started as a joke when a play cousin approached Matturi about wanting surf lessons. Taking her up on the challenge, he grabbed some rental gear, got his cousin and some of her posse in the water and — an Instagram post later — Sofly was materializing into a real thing.
“We got a whole bunch of likes [on Instagram], and I was like, ‘You know what, I love teaching. I love surfing. This is my passion,’” Matturi said.
Who Said That?
Matturi wants to dispel the rumor that a surfer’s biggest concern should be protection from sharks. While it’s reasonable to be wary of these creatures, surfers in California rarely have to worry because that part of the ocean isn’t part of the predators’ territory. Another part of getting people in the water is helping them face their fear of water and any potential harm associated with surfing.
There’s also a major cultural misconception that surfing isn’t for Black people.
“For the Black community, I feel like it’s one of those things we kind of steered away from because of the trauma from the ocean. So, I’m really trying to break that barrier to get our people back in the water and in touch with Mother Nature,” Matturi explained. He believes once people reconnect with the water, it’ll be a natural progression of joy and bliss.
Just Get In The Water
The first step to surfing is just getting out there, but there are a few things Matturi deems necessary to maximize the journey. First, invest in a good wetsuit. Then, beginners should get a board that’s slightly bigger than their height and weight.
Encouraging others to get in the water is a part of Matturi’s teaching journey, but when he’s out there, he uses the water to escape reality.
“When I sit in the water, I try not to think as much as possible. I am just trying to be present, enjoy the moment, feel the sun on my skin and the water on my body,” Matturi said.
Even though he enjoys the solitude of the water, Matturi’s ideal surfing experience would be him and about a thousand Black people charging and having a great time in the water. Now, that would be the ultimate swag surf!
Visit here to learn more about Sofly and the learning opportunities Matturi offers through the school.
This editorial was brought to you in partnership with GMC. Find out more about Sofly Surf School here